Prairie Winds Guest Artists

2019 Prairie Winds Guest Artists

Jeff Coffin, saxophonist

photo credit: Greg Kessler

Saxophonist Jeff Coffin is a globally recognized musician, composer, educator, and author. He is a member of Dave Matthews Band, a 3-time Grammy Award winner, and a 14-year former member of Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (1997-2010).  Jeff also fronts his own group, Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet, founded the Nashville Jazz Composers Collective, in 2012 started and continues to run Ear Up Records, has played on countless studio recordings, has recorded multiple solo cd’s, produces, engineers, is a Yamaha & D’Addario Performing Artist, is an avid photographer, and still finds time to teach saxophone and improvisation at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.   

Some of the artists Coffin has shared the stage and the recording studio include a “who’s who” of musicians such as Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Dave Matthews Band, Branford Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, DJ Logic, New Orleans Social Club, Maceo Parker, McCoy Tyner, Baaba Maal, Phish, Mike Clark's Prescription Trio, Galactic, Kirk Whalum, My Morning Jacket, Widespread Panic, Chris Thile, Willie Nelson, Chester Thompson, Garth Brooks, Van Morrison, J.D. Souther, Vinnie Colaiuta, The Dixie Chicks, 'Rakalam' Bob Moses, Stanton Moore, Brooks and Dunn, Tuvan Throat Singers - the Alash Ensemble & Konger Ol Ondar, George Porter Jr., Umphrey's McGee, Del McCoury, John Scofield, Yonder Mountain String Band, Marc Broussard, Martina McBride, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Wailers and many, many others.  

Along the way, Coffin has absorbed an astounding range of influences. "Whether it be New Orleans Second Line, African, Indian Ragas, Brazilian, folk songs, Gypsy music, Alan Lomax field recordings, jazz, funk, etc..." he says, "the spirit and breath of the music is what I take away from the listening and playing. It's what decides for me if I like it or not...I consider it 'Spirit Music'." Coffin is also known to play two saxes at a time, in a nod to the late great saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. 

Jeff is a heavily in-demand clinician, a Yamaha Performing Artist and D’Addario Performing Artist and has presented more than 300 solo and Mu'tet music clinics from Farmington, Maine to Perth, Australia, to Johannesburg, South Africa to students of all ages to rave reviews.  

Living in Nashville, TN since 1991, Coffin graduated with a music education degree from the prestigious University of North Texas in 1990 where he played in the acclaimed One O’Clock Lab Band. He also studied with sax great Joe Lovano on a National Endowment for the Arts grant. 

A number of Jeff’s compositions have been published as big band arrangements through the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Jazz Press and he has presented them in concert with many ensembles.  Education continues to be an important part of what Jeff shares with others, and he is a tireless champion to players of all ages and levels to discover and cultivate their own musical voice. 

At the 2000 Grammy Awards, in addition to Bela Fleck & the Flecktones winning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording (Outbound), Coffin and Fleck’s tune, Zona Mona (also from Outbound) was Grammy nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Composition. 

Coffin is also an avid photographer and he sees photographic composition, musical composition and improvisation as going hand in hand. All of his recent cd cover photography is his own.  

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